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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Our Research at Policy Channel Foresaw the Environment Issue as #1 Priority During the PC Leadership.

The Strategic Counsel recent poll widely distributed in the Globe and Mail and on CTV has some surprising results according to pollster Allan Gregg. Foregive our hubris but we at Policy Channel knew the shift to the environment had happened early last October and by mid November 2006 we knew just how big a priority it had become.

The Globe and Mail/CTV poll was done in mid January with a 1000 sample size it showed that “Environmental Issues” are the #1 priority. That has change in the environment replacing health as the #1 issue priority been reflected in other recent polls. That is not the surprise. The surprise comes from the amazing number of Canadians who chose the environment as #1. A whooping 26%! For some context, when the Harper government took over one year ago the environment was #1 for only 4% of Canadians in a much larger poll of 1500 respondents.

Well we at Policy Channel saw this coming back in October 2006 during the PC Leadership contest. We did a web based conjoint study with a strategic partner pollster we know and found that 26% of Albertans who participated saw the environment as the top, #1 policy priority for the Alberta government. I did a number of blog postings on results as they evolved in the PC Leadership campaign. The latest interm blog report #4 on our survey results is the November 19, 2006 posting if you are interested in checking it out.

While the results were not “scientific” because of the self-selecting nature of those who participated are not necessarily reflective of the demographic and geographic nature of the province. The key was we got participation from people who are activists politically and who have influence as a result. They are the folks who show up and make a difference so in many ways and on the key issues. They are the opinion leaders and we know that their influential opinions are, in many ways, more important to the political process and politicians in particular.

Our research results not only indicate the issue priority but the intensity of the commitment to it. So when we say the environment is at 26% it is in the context of how likely are you to trade this issue off for another, like health care, which was the second priority in Alberta late last year. Our numbers help politicians and government decide where the public wants time and effort spent relatively speaking.

In pure Alberta political terms if candidate A “owns” the environment issue in the public’s mind, to neutralize that impact, candidate B would have to control and “own” the next three issues. They are health care quality and access, reducing poverty and the quality of K-12 education. Not easy to do.

NO WONDER HARPER IS AFRAID OF DION TO THE POINT HE NEEDS SUPERBOWL ATTACK ADS TO TRY AND NEUTRALIZE HIS STRONGER PERSONAL HOLD ON THE ENVIRONMENT ISSUE.